Hannah Higginbotham: The superhero prep school teacher

When Hannah left university, she thought about getting into teaching, and although she decided against it at the time, it was always at the back of her mind. It wasn’t until she had children and started helping in their school that she realised her passion for teaching.

“I had my children and started helping in their schools and realised I really enjoyed it. I saw the difference an amazing teacher makes and it really made me want to give every child the best chance I could.”

Hannah realised that teachers really are heroes of the classroom and wanted to become a superhero teacher herself. With the help of Tes Institute’s Straight to Teaching programme, Hannah was able to work towards Qualified Teacher Status (QTS).

Why did you choose Straight to Teaching?

Originally, I looked at the PGCE courses on offer at universities close to me, but I just couldn’t work out how I was going to make that work with a job and a family. I had a colleague who had done Straight to Teaching and after a lot of research I realised it was the best option for me in terms of being supported by my school and the job I was doing. 

Turns out it was the best decision I made! 

How did you find the programme? 

I really enjoyed the programme – the hardest thing for me was juggling the study while working and raising a family, but it was well worth it in the end. 

I worked an 80% timetable, which meant that I had some time to do my coursework at school. However, I did find it a little hard to switch off from the day job so I tended to work on the coursework in the evenings, weekends and in the holidays.

I had a brilliant mentor from my school and pathway tutor from Tes Institute, which helped massively. Everyone at school was amazingly supportive and patient, and cheering for me when I passed a milestone. 

What advice would you give someone thinking about starting Straight to Teaching?

Get the pre-course induction tasks done before you start the course and get the skills tests out of the way as soon as you can.

If you’re doing the course over three terms as I did, don’t worry about evidencing to start with, but get a spreadsheet going with all the evidence you have as you collect it, as figuring out what to write about is half the battle! 

Finally, realise that your mentor and pathway tutor are there to support you and make you a better teacher, not to pick holes in you! Once I realised that they weren’t judging me, but giving me feedback to help me improve my teaching, my confidence grew, which is half the battle.

How has Straight to Teaching helped progress your career?

I’ve progressed from part-time TA to full-time teacher of a reception class, which is exactly what I wanted when I started the process. 

I’ve also got to know more people around the school which means I have a great network to rely on – which was an unexpected bonus.  

How has Straight to Teaching helped you become a superhero teacher? 

It has given me the confidence to trust my ability and get the best out of my class. 

I was in a part-time teaching role when I started the course, and I just didn’t feel ready to teach but now I know I can do the job really well and have the certificate to prove it, which has made me more relaxed, and in turn this has helped make me a superhero teacher!

What powers would you say are required to be a superhero teacher?

You need to be organised, creative and passionate about teaching and have the ability to stay calm under pressure! 

You also need to have endless patience and a good sense of humour. 

Be a good team player and be prepared to go the extra mile. 

Find out what route you could take to become a superhero teacher like Hannah, and start your journey towards gaining your QTS superpowers.